Defining the Neophyte Grade

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The Neophyte passes onto the tree (Liber Pyramidos – see below for explanatory notes), binding the house and its elements (Malkuth) in the Pentacle, closing the right hand (Shin) round death and waking, closing the left hand (Qoph) round the second sight, and with eyes to see the invisible (Tau) does climb the pillar of strength.

The definitive work of the Neophyte is in establishing their House (Four Powers of the Sphinx) and ascertaining the Formula of Admittance (Liber VII), both of which are the methods for accomplishment of the three Paths. The left and right Paths contain the functional experience of the Practicus and Philosophus required within the grade of Neophyte, from the method in which the tree is traveled (the student, moving up the tree, travels all Paths from their designated Sephirah simultaneously and completes the tasks of each Path, even if the tasks lead to a place other than the next grade).

Malkuth (Pentacle)
The Pantacle is a character expressing the universal science. The Pentacle is a Pantacle expressed using the formula of the elements configured to harmonize the four walls of the Pyramid (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) with the base of the Pyramid (Spirit). The construction and consecration binds one foot into the house of Malkuth, allowing the other foot to travel the Paths. Further detailed instruction on the construction of the Pentacle is given in Liber IV Part II (this is one expression of the universal science. The Adept creates another Pantacle utilizing the Hexagram and the Magus a different Pantacle using an altogether different formula).

"On the sunset side were all the baths, and the bedrooms were in front of us as we were. The baths were all of pale olive-coloured marble, and the bedrooms had lemon-coloured everything. Then there were the kitchens on the sunrise side, and they were russet, like dead leaves are in autumn in one's dreams. The place we had come through was perfectly black everything, and only used for offices and such things." [Quoted from Liber XCV]

Shin (Death & Waking)

The double attribution of the 31st path is perfectly formulated as death (the active component of Fire) and the waking (the heart of the Spirit) both of which are easily comprehended, yet require great passion and fortitude to accomplish. Therefore did the Master Therion create the simplest of all instructions, so that the full effort of the Will can be applied to the realization of the Path, and not to the lengthy writing of the achievement. This instruction is Liber CCCXLI (specifically chapter 2 & 3).

"This passage was all fire and flames and full of coffins. There was an angel blowing on a trumpet, and people getting out of the coffins. My Fairy Prince said: "Most people never wake up for anything less.” " [Quoted from Liber XCV]

Qoph (Second Sight)
Here begins the training of the technical methods of Divination, allowing the amalgamation of symbols extracted into other-conscious knowledge, as well as the further interpretation of the wheel (the movements of Assiah–the material world). Further detailed instruction is given in Liber LXXVIII, Liber XCVI, Liber CLVII, and the Book of Thoth.

"We walked through a pool, each on the arm of a great big Beetle, and then we found ourselves on a winding path. There were nasty Jackals about, they made such a noise, and at the end I could see two towers. Then there was the queerest moon you ever saw, only a quarter full. The shadows fell so strangely, one could see the mysterious shapes, like great bats with women's faces, and blood dripping from their mouths, and creatures partly wolves and partly men, everything changing one into the other. And we saw shadows like old, old, ugly women, creeping about on sticks, and all of a sudden they would fly up into the air, shrieking the funniest kind of songs, and then suddenly one would come down flop, and you saw she was really quite young and ever so lovely, and she would have nothing on, and as you looked at her she would crumble away like a biscuit." [Quoted from Liber XCV]

Tau (Invisible)

The processes of Astral Visions, the Body of Light, and the Journey in the Spirit Vision with control formulated through the crystallization of the planes. Simply put, enough experience and insight is gained so that the planes cease to be confusing and, although not fully mapped out, travel is not accidental or confused. Further exhaustive instruction is given in Liber CCCXLI (Chapter 1).

"We came to a dreadful dark passage again, so narrow and low, that it was like a dirty old tunnel, and yet so vast and wide that everything in the whole world was contained in it. We saw all the strange dreams and awful shapes of fear, and really I don't know how we ever got through, except that the Prince called for some splendid strong creatures to guard us. There was an eagle that flew, and beat his wings, and tore and bit at everything that came near; and there was a lion that roared terribly, and his breath was a flame, and burnt up the things, so that there was a great cloud; and rain fell gently and purely, so that he really did the things good by fighting them. And there was a bull that tossed them on his horns, so that they changed into butterflies; and there was a man that kept telling everybody to be quiet and not make a noise." [Quoted from Liber XCV]

The Introduction of Probationers (Initiation)

The Neophyte, after passing Liber Pyramidos, has the right (some traditions designate this as an obligation) to Initiate and train Probationers. This can be beneficial to the Neophyte by pushing their efforts and instigating their progression into the next grade, lest the Probationer overtake them. This can also go awry, roughly tossing the Neophyte from the tree. The Neophyte should consult his or her Zelator before introducing any prospective Probationers.

Study and Practice
The previous grade contained general practices and study designed to prepare the Aspirant and confirm their suitability. Every effort was made to eliminate excessive memorization and lengthy tasks not absolutely necessary to the grade, as most Probationers do not advance and any knowledge gained is wasted after leaving the path that would have taken them to the Gates of Initiation. Additionally, lengthy memorization implants stronger shadows of what could have been and the wasted potential resulting from the Candidate’s failure.

The Neophyte grade contains specific areas of theoretical and practical study that requires focus and diligent application. However the Neophyte consciously pursues this focus and application at all times. A natural consequence of properly applying him or herself to the grade work, following the instructions included hereafter, will find many of the tasks of the grade accomplished as a matter of course, and the remaining tasks will not be seen as work, but as a passion.

The Astral Visions, Body of Light, Journey in the Spirit Vision, Divination, and Realization of the Wake World are not naturally divided techniques. The building of any single ability furthers success in all of them. They are interconnected and, although divided in the lessons taught, of the same nature and realm. These abilities, when developed, accomplish the tasks of the grade, including the Four Powers of the Sphinx and the elemental formula. It is success in these grade tasks that allow the measuring of attainment achieved.

It is important at this time to point out that there is a difference in the training of male and female initiates (The training of male and female Probationers is identical and therefore did not require any explanation or exceptions). This especially becomes important, as many of the Master Therion’s writings have been interpreted as misogynistic. Aleister Crowley’s writing style does not help this perception. Being born and educated during the Victorian age, his style of writing, especially the more scholarly Class B documents, reflects the style of the day, which includes referencing a person or persons in the (‘he’, ‘him’, ‘mankind’, etc.) masculine. Supporting these misrepresentations are selected quotes taken out of context.

For example, a favorite quote to prove Crowley was a misogynists is, “a woman has no soul.” The full quote in context is, “A male star is built up from the centre; a female from the circumference inwards. This is what is meant when we say that a woman has no soul.” Properly examined the quote can be restated as ‘the man has a soul and the woman is the soul.’ The historical record clearly shows that male and female members of the Order were equally valued. The Book of the Law, which unequivocally states, “Every man and every woman is a star” and the Master Therion, as the Messenger of the Law, followed its principles. The vigilant student must take care to not misinterpret what is being stated in any of the official A∴ A∴ documents. Missteps will occur, but these gradually correct themselves as the knowledge learned becomes the wisdom applied.

The training for men and woman does need tailoring on some occasions within the instructions provided and for some specific grade tasks. When necessary, the training and instruction is clearly tailored to gender and the reason or need for these changes is fully explained, in the hopes of preventing any misinterpretations.

Many of the tasks accomplished and skills developed in the grade are verified or tested as they are completed. This begins with verification of Liber Pyramidos and, with many steps confirmed in between, finishes with testing in clairvoyance. Every thing confirmed and tested throughout the grade does not require assessment in the grade test itself, which is specifically designed to ensure that proper techniques are being used in Ceremonial Ritual and in the intellectual and analytical development of the Neophyte.

Opening of the Gate
The original Neophyte Grade Entrance Ritual was a weeklong trial carefully administered by a Member of a higher grade. It was later adapted and changed into Liber Pyramidos and designated a ritual to be accomplished during the Neophyte grade. Specifically, as ‘A Ritual of Self-Initiation based on the Formula of the Neophyte’ (Quoted from the cover page of Liber Pyramidos), and it is this ritual that provides the means of passage onto the Tree of Life. This new approach provides all students with a method of properly experiencing the passage onto the Tree of Life, in a self-administered ritual, written and anointed by the Master Therion. Guidance and independent verification is still recommended, but a thorough record of the preparation and of the ritual is the next best alternative.

The Seal of Life, being the Temple ritual for entrance into the Neophyte grade, is still recommended for Aspirants working within a group and provides: a means of recognition; a record of the grade change; an announcement of the magical name (motto); and a means of fundamentally changing the conscious perception of the Neophyte to a new beginning and commitment to the work. However, the Temple ritual does not constitute the stepping onto the Tree of Life. It would be more accurate to say that it represents an Aspirant who is about to pursue the passage.

It follows that the first task of the Neophyte is the preparation and performance of Liber Pyramidos. Although the ritual is included on the grade list, it is not included on the Neophyte’s grade test, however it will be difficult to make any significant progress with the remaining tasks of the grade if the ritual is not accomplished.

Liber Pyramidos is easily found from a number of reliable sources, all of them vary slightly, and has also been reprinted in the original hand-written, hand-drawn format (Equinox volume IV, number 1 [Samuel Weiser]). The version included herein, has the virtues of following closely to the original hand-written version, and has been successfully used by Students of the Invisible House Society for more than a decade. The Neophyte may choose to use the version included in this book, adapt the ritual from the original, or acquire a copy of the ritual from some other source. As in all tasks and rituals, it is the achieving of a desired result that is of the uttermost importance.

The Neophyte schedules a week of solitude for the accomplishment of the ritual, as soon as it is realistically possible, after the Seal of Life ritual. If for any reason there should be a delay in the performance of this ritual, the Neophyte should progress with the remaining grade requirements, as well as any of the recommended Class B documents missed in the previous grade or with some other intellectual task concurrent with the tasks of the grade.

The notes that follow provide all of the essential instruction to aid in the successful completion of Liber Pyramidos:

1) The tools and setting for the ritual are constructed, acquired or arranged by the Neophyte to the best of his or her ability. Direction is provided in Liber IV, Part 2.

2) Memorization and rehearsal of the ritual begins at the same time as the tools and working space are being secured.

3) A description of the nature of the operation, from an elevated perspective more advanced than that of the Neophyte, but still invaluable as insight to the proper nature and accomplishment of the ritual:

I shall try and describe Ritual DCLXXI; since its nature is important to this great ceremony of initiation. Those who understand a little about the Path of the Wise may receive some hint of the method of operation of the L.V.X.

And I think that a description will help me to collect myself for the proper adaptation of this Ritual to the purpose of Self-initiation.

Oh, how soft is the air, and how serene the sky, to one who has passed through the black rule of Apophis! How infinitely musical are the voices of Nature, those that are heard and those that are not heard! What Understanding of the Universe, what Love is the prize of him that hath performed all things and endured all things!

The first operation of Ritual DCLXXI is the preparation of the Place.

There are two forces; that of Death and that of Natural Life.

Death begins the Operation by a knock, to which Life answers.

Then Death, banishing all forces external to the operation, declares the Speech in the Silence.
Both officers go from their thrones and form the base of a triangle whose apex is the East. They invoke the Divine Word, and then Death slays with the knife, and embalms with the oil, his sister Life.

Life, thus prepared, invokes, at the summons of Death ,the forces necessary to the Operation. The Word takes its station in the East and the officers salute it both by speech and silence in their signs; and they pronounce the secret Word of power that riseth from the Silence and returneth thereunto.

All this they affirm; and in affirming the triangular base of the Pyramid, find that they have mysteriously affirmed the Apex thereof whose name is Ecstasy.

This also is sealed by that secret word; for that Word containeth All.

Into this prepared Pyramid of divine Light there cometh a certain darkling wight, who knoweth not either his own nature, or his origin or destiny, or even the name of that which he desireth. Before he can enter the Pyramid, therefore, four ordeals are required of him.

So, bound and blinded, he stumbles forward, and passes through the wrath of the Four Great Princes of the Evil of the World, whose Terror is about him on every side. Yet since he has followed the voice of the Officer who has prepared him, in this part of the Ritual no longer merely Nature, the great Mother, but Neschamah (his aspiration) and the representative of Adonai, he may pass through all. Yea, in spite of the menace of the Hiereus, whose function is now that of his fear and of his courage, he goes on and enters the Pyramid. But there he is seized and thrown down by both officers as one unworthy to enter. His aspiration purifies him with steel and fire; and there as he lies shattered by the force of the ritual, he hears – even as a corpse that hears the voice of Israfel––the Hegemon that chants a solemn hymn of praise to that glory which is at the Apex, and who invisibly rules and governs the whole Pyramid.

Now then that darkling wight is lifted by the officers and brought to the altar in the centre; and there the Hiereus accuses him of the two and twenty Basenesses, while the Hegemon lifting up his chained arms cries again and again against his enemy that he is under the Shadow of the Eternal Wings of the Holy One. Yet at the end, at the supreme accusation, the Hiereus smites him into death. The same answer avails him, and in its strength he is uplifted by his aspiration – and now he stands upright.

Now then he makes a journey in his new house, and perceives at stated times, each time preceded by a new ordeal and equilibration, the forces that surround him. Death he sees, and the Life of Nature whose name is Sorrow, and the Word that quickeneth these, and his own self – and when he hath recognised these four in their true nature he passes to the altar once more and as the apex of a descending triangle is admitted to the lordship of the Double Kingdom. Thus is he a member of the visible triad that is crossed with the invisible – behold the hexagram of Solomon the King! All this the Hiereus seals with a knock and at the Hegemon's new summons he – to his surprise – finds himself as the Hanged Man of the Tarot.

Each point of the figure thus formed they crown with light, until he glitters with the Flame of the Spirit.

Thus and not otherwise is he made a partaker of the Mysteries, and the Lightning Flash strikes him. The Lord hath descended from heaven with a shout and with the Voice of the Archangel, and the trump of God.

He is installed in the Throne of the Double Kingdom, and he wields the Wand of Double Power by the sings of the grade.

He is recognized an initiate, and the word of Secret Power, and the silent administration of the Sacrament of Sword and Flame, acknowledge him.

Then, the words being duly spoken and the deeds duly done, all is symbolically sealed by the

Thirty Voices, and the Word that vibrateth from the Silence to the Speech, and from the Speech again unto the Silence.

Then the Pyramid is sealed up, even as it was opened; yet in the sealing thereof the three men partake in a certain mystical manner of the Eucharist of the Four Elements that are consumed for the Perfection of the Oil.

Knox Om Pax
(Quoted from Liber DCCCLX).

4) When the Neophyte becomes lost to the passion of the ritual, perceiving a significant change of perception, that being a departure from the mundane concerns and an admission or vision of something beyond the everyday worldly concerns, the ritual is achieved. For the passage onto the Tree of Life is accomplished in just this way, by the first significant change in perception, born from the passion of work, through the effort of ritual. Whereas the Neophyte may still be bound to the illusionary world of the material, he or she now confirms the possibility of worlds beyond the limited existence of the visible.

Liber Pyramidos is more than what it would appear to be. It also represents a ritual that is revisited by the Adept who anoints and executes the working on a higher plane than that achieved by the Neophyte, as an ongoing method of self-initiation. The formula within the ritual is exactly the same in both versions. It is the understanding that advances the ritual. Additionally, the ritual is the FORMULA of the Neophyte; therefore many of the processes within are utilized over the course of the student grades.